1st time to kauai and oahu - please help!

Old May 5th, 2006, 11:39 AM
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1st time to kauai and oahu - please help!

hi all,

i'm new to the boards, but i've been reading previous posts to get some ideas for my upcoming trip to kauai and oahu. i'm flying in with my sister may 28 to kauai where we'll be staying at a timeshare in princeville for a few days. for another few days we've got a room at the garden island inn. my sister flies out june 5, and i will fly to oahu for another 8 days to be with my friend who is getting married.

ok, so a few kauai things:
1. my sister and i want to go to lots of farmers markets and possibly a taro farm/plantation. any suggetsions?
2. i want to treat my sister to a massage/spa day in kauai. are there any good spas? i've seen reviews for anara and alexander spa. yes? no? not worth it?
3. rental car: we're definitely getting a rental for kauai, but do you suggets a jeep for visiting more off-road sites or is an economy car ok? we're on a bit of a budget, but i'm willing to splurge on a few things.
4. surfing lessons: i really really want to learn how to surf. i read about the margo oberg lessons, but my sister says it'd be cheaper to find a local to teach us. are there local surf schools near the beaches (we're planning on going to lots of different beaches, weather permitting) or are surfers/locals usually willing to give lessons?

oahu questions:

1. my friend wants to go to a luau. i've read bad things about the polynesian center luau, and i'd prefer not to go to anything too touristy/cheesy. i've also seen suggestions for paradise cove and germaine's. another board suggested trying to find a more local luau. any suggestions/ideas on how to do this? i'd really like to meet some locals and see how it's really done.
2. oahu spa: i'd like to treat my friend to a spa day as well (do you see a pattern here?). again, yes? no? not worth it?
3. wedding sites: my friend wants to get married on a beach at sunset, but she hasn't decided which one. the entire wedding party and guests will be about 10 people at the most. i read something about magic island and diamond head. good? no good?
5. oahu state fair: how would you rate this? my friends who are getting married are bringing their 4 yr old daughter. would the state fair be a good place to spend the day/a few hours?

sorry for my ignorance. i have no clue!
sanchow is offline  
Old May 5th, 2006, 11:46 AM
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Type "Kauai" in the "search this forum" at the top of the site and stand back on Kauai info! ~gt;
Kal is offline  
Old May 5th, 2006, 12:05 PM
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We have been twice to Kauai and the first time we rented a convertible, the 2nd time we rented a Jeep. THe Jeep was really fun. We really didn't need it for alot of off roading, but it was fun. We managed well with the convertible and of the trails we did, there was only one in Wimea Canyon where we wished we would have had the Jeep. keep in mind you will need to cover up the Jeep each night in case it rains.

I can't answer your question about the spas but we did stay at the Hyatt where the Anara spa is located and it is supposed to be great. It is usually listed in Conde Nast on their top lists.

There is a farmers market that rotates around the island eadc week. One week it is in Hanlei, and so on. Just check around when you get there..someone will know about it.

Some of my favorite places to eat are: Brennecke's in Poipu and Zelo Beach HOuse in Hanalei.

salgal is offline  
Old May 5th, 2006, 12:11 PM
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There are a bunch of spas in Honolulu - don't know if I can necessarily recommend one over the other. A few that come to mind are Aveda, Heaven on Earth, Ampy's, Paul Brown's. I know that there are a couple in some hotels in Waikiki, but can't recall the names.

Magic Island is popular beach and at sunset the park is full of people jogging, walking or enjoying the beach. If you wanted a more "private" type ceremony without a lot of people around, Magic Island is probably not the best choice.

The 50th State Fair is probably not any different from a lot of other state fairs - expensive carnival rides, games, greasy food, crowds, etc. If you do go, I would go in they daytime.

It gets a lot more crowded in the evening, and it seems that is the preferred time for large groups of unruly teens and young adults to go.
chepar is offline  
Old May 5th, 2006, 08:08 PM
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We will be heading to Kauai on the 29th of May and then will be heading to Oahu on the 3rd of June. Here are the sites that might help. 1) http://www.kauaidiscovery.com

2) http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowForum...ai_Hawaii.html

3) http://www.alternative-hawaii.com/activity/otourl.htm

Please click on the second link after the > to sent you to the site.
edhere is offline  
Old May 6th, 2006, 02:54 PM
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I hate to disappoint you on the luaus, but most available luaus are pretty touristy.....so the question is, how touristy do you want it? I often take out of town guests to the Paradise Cove luau, and I think it may be less expensive (or far) than the PCC luau.

Also do a search for "farmers markets"--there wa a thread on this recently......
MelissaHI is offline  
Old May 6th, 2006, 09:13 PM
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Polynesian Cultural Center's evening show, 'Horizons', is the best show in Hawaii. The entire day there is the best Polynesian experience that you can have.

50th State Fair - Not very big. More like a county fair.

For dates, times, wristband info, etc.


Lots of wedding info on www.gohawaii.com

List of things to do on Oahu

These are some hints/suggestions for things to do and see on Oahu. Many of the websites listed are good for all islands.

Arizona Memorial: (free) get there early, preferably by 8am. Opens at 7:30am. If you get there after 10am the lines can get long and you may spend 1-2 hours in line. Battleship USS Missouri and Submarine USS Bowfin are in the same area. These are about $15 each so you can go or skip them. Look for coupons in brochures for two for one. You can take pictures of them from Arizona Visitors Center and the Arizona tour ferry. Go on the lawn behind the Visitor's Center (Circle of Remembrance) for great pictures. You can also walk around the Bowfin Memorial area for free without taking the tour. Its worth the time. The Swap Meet is only a couple blocks from here at Aloha Stadium.

Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC): www.polynesia.com General Admission about $50 or the luau buffet package ($80). The evening 'Horizons' show is the best Polynesian show in all of Hawaii. It comes with all ticket price options. The higher priced ticket packages get the better seating for 'Horizons'. Also the earlier you get there, the better the seating is for 'Horizons'. The Ali'i Luau Show that is part of the luau package is also a good Polynesian show. IMAX, Canoe Pageant, Samoa and Tonga villages and Canoe ride are the best other attractions (these are included with any type ticket). Plan on this as an all day event. Get there by 1pm (earlier if possible), leave around 9:30pm. When I take visitors, I try to keep on this schedule: IMAX 1:30, Canoe Pageant 2:30, Samoa 3:00, Tonga 4:00, Canoe Ride around 4:30, regular buffet or Ali'i luau buffet 5pm and 'Horizons' at 7:30. The other villages are nice also, but there is not enough time for all of them. You will have time to do some shopping or looking around between the buffet or luau and 'Horizons'. Closed on Sundays. You can go back for free for two days. Check with PCC employees for instructions before leaving the Center if you want the extra days.
Coupon in Entertainment Book to save $36.

Diamond Head Summit: Drive right into the crater and hike to the top. ($5 per carload or $1 each if you walk into the crater). I prefer to drive in. Awesome 360 degree view from the summit. Best time is around 8am or around 4pm. In between it can get hot walking to the top. Takes about 1 - 1 1/2 hours roundtrip.

Punchbowl (National Cemetery of the Pacific): (free) While you are there, drive to the overlook area. Short walk to the summit that overlooks the entire city. If you have time, take the Mt. Tantalus/Round Top drive through a rain forest. Stop at the Puu Ualakaa State Wayside about 2/3 of the way to the top of the mountain. It has an awesome view of the city from Waikiki to Pearl Harbor. Punchbowl is near the bottom of Mt. Tantalus.

Hanauma Bay: Snorkel. Its for any age. You can rent snorkeling equipment there or some places in Waikiki or bring your own. Closed on Tuesdays. Try to get there as early as possible. If you drive, the parking lot gets filled up by 9:00 or 10:00. ($1 for parking, $5 for each person). You can reserve snorkel tours with several companies. They provide equipment, transportation, etc. They seem to have better equipment than the park does. You can also take the city bus. But the first city bus doesn't leave Waikiki until 8:30 am. Website:


Byodo-In-Temple (Valley of the Temples): $2 each. Just past Kaneohe. Haiku Gardens in Kaneohe is close by.

Chinaman's Hat: (free) Kualoa Regional Park is just past Byodo-In-Temple. Nice for pictures, picnic, swimming. Also nearby is Macadamia Nut Farm Outlet just before Kualoa Regional Park. Kualoa Ranch is across the street.

Swap Meet: You can buy almost any souvenirs here much cheaper than anywhere else. All items are new. Vendors wrap around the stadium twice. Located at Aloha Stadium near Arizona Memorial. Open Wed, Sat, Sun.

Hilo Hattie's: Nice place to shop. Higher prices than swap meet, but not too much more on many items. Has good selection of clothing, candies and souvenirs. Check brochures for coupons. Can take free Hilo Hattie's shuttle from Waikiki.

Ala Moana Beach Park: (free) Nice beach. Great sunset location in the winter. Walk all the way out to the end of Magic Island. Great view of Waikiki, Diamond Head, Ala Wai Boat Harbor (shown in opening scene of Gilligan's Island).

Hike to Manoa Falls: $5 for parking at Treetops. One mile one way. Short hike through a rain forest. Also small bamboo forest there. Treetops restaurant there (at the previous Paradise Park site) has a good Chinese buffet. Lyon Arboretum is nearby. It is a nice botanical garden. You can park there and walk a short distance to Manoa Falls trail.

Hike to Makapuu Point Lighthouse: (free) Great view from here. Easy one mile hike. In winter months (mid-November to mid-April) it's great for whale watching.

Other Hiking on Oahu:

http://www.hawaiitrails.org/ (good for all islands)




North Shore Beaches: Haleiwa, Banzai Pipeline (Ehukai Beach), Waimea Beach, Sunset Beach, Shark's Cove (Pupukea) &Laniakea Beach. Laniakea Beach has sea turtles. Other nice stops for pictures in the area. Can be huge waves in winter. Good snorkeling at Shark's Cove in the summer. Laniakea Beach is located about 1/2 way between Waimea Bay and Haleiwa.

Other beaches: There are close to 100 beaches on Oahu. Besides North Shore and Waikiki beaches these are some of the better ones: Makaha Beach (west shore), Waimanalo Beach, Waimanalo Bay Recreation Area, Lanikai Beach, Sandy Beach, Hanauma Bay and Kailua Beach (east/Windward side), Ala Moana Beach Park (south shore). All public beaches are free except Haunama Bay.

Dole Pineapple Plantation: On H-2 just past Wahiawa. Can visit on the way to or back from the North Shore. Nice gift shop to browse, but expensive. Go behind the center for pineapple exhibits, gardens and carp feeding pond.

Kualoa Ranch: Several movies have been set here: (Jurassic Park, Mighty Joe Young and others), ATV rides, horseback riding, tours. Located across from Kualoa Regional Park.

Waikiki: Beaches, shopping, dining, nightclubs, shows, some museums. Wide range in dining prices. $3-4 breakfasts, $6-10 lunch buffets, $20-$25 fine dining and anywhere in between. Best Waikiki shows: Creation: A Polynesian Journey, John Hirokawa's Magic of Polynesia, Society of Seven, Blue Hawaii (Elvis impersonator), many more to chose from. Many Waikiki shows offer cocktail show along with the dinner show. They seat you after everyone else has eaten. Regular price of shows around $40-$60. Cocktail show about $25-$35. There are several other short free hula shows and other demonstrations in Waikiki daily. Check the brochures for location, days and times. Check brochures &Entertainment Book for coupons for shows/dining/shopping, etc.

Downtown Area: Aloha Tower (take elevator to the top, nice view), Chinatown, Hawaii Maritime Center, Iolani Palace, Bishop Museum, other museums.

Botanical Gardens: Oahu has many botanical gardens. Most are free, the others charge a few bucks. Haiku Garden in Kaneohe is nice and is a nice stop if you are taking an island driving tour. Located near Byodo-In-Temple (Valley of the Temples).
Here is a nice site for gardens in the state:

http://www.hawaii.edu/sciref/botgarden.html (all islands)

Check brochures or get info on-line for others. Search: oahu botanical gardens

Other: Sea Life Park, Honolulu Zoo, Waikiki Aquarium, Children's Discovery Center, dinner cruises, whale watching cruise, submarine tours, parasailing, helicopter tours, horseback riding, Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park, scuba, surfing lessons, other luau shows (Germaine's, Paradise Cove). Many other attractions, things to do. Check the brochures.

Brochures: (free) Can be found in the airport baggage claim area or at hundreds of news stands throughout Waikiki, in hotels, in stores, and at some attractions. These are excellent "things to do and see" guide books (maps, attractions, beaches, dining, night clubs, etc.). There are a lot of coupons in these for dining, shopping, etc. The best brochures are: 'This Week on Oahu', 'Oahu Gold', '101 Things Oahu', 'The BEST of Oahu'. Some of these brochures can also be found for other islands (Maui, Kauai, Big Island) unique to that island. Most of these brochures also have on-line versions.


www.thisweek.com 'This Week On Oahu' They will send up-to-date brochures for a few bucks. Also This Week Maui, Kauai, Big Island.

www.spotlighthawaii.com 'Oahu Gold' They will send up-to-date brochures for a few bucks. Also Maui Gold, Big Island Gold, Kauai Gold.

www.gohawaii.com This is the official site for Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau. They will send a free brochure.


www.visit-oahu.com Oahu Visitors Bureau, for free brochure 1-877-525-6248 (toll free)

www.hawaii.com Good site for comparing hotel locations, prices, etc.






www.honolulu.hawaii.edu/tours (driving and walking tours)

www.driveguidemagazines.com Good island maps including many detailed maps. Also good restaurant guide. Good for all islands

www.discoveringhawaii.com Free (pdf) circle island tour map. Also free (pdf) download Oahu movie location map.

www.hawaii-hotels.com Compare hotels

www.bookit.com Compare hotels



www.honoluluadvertiser.com one of two main Honolulu newspapers, has dining and entertainment guides, TGIF calendar

www.starbulletin.com one of two main Honolulu newspapers, also has dining and entertainment guides

Automobiles: Oahu is the only island that you can get around by bus. Oahu has a good bus system, but a rental vehicle gets around a lot better. Parking in Waikiki can be a problem at times. If you plan on renting a car, make sure your hotel allows parking at the hotel or in a nearby lot or garage. Get the parking pass at the hotel registration area. Probably $8-$14/day to park at the hotel. You can get city bus passes at any ABC store in Waikiki for $20 for 4 days ($40/month). Or you can pay $2.00 per trip. There are also many shuttles, tour buses and vans and trolleys that go to many places (some are free). Also 1 or 4 day Waikiki Trolley passes available.



Internet Search Engines: Use Yahoo, Google, Dogpile or any other search engine to find information on any thing else on Oahu (or other island) that may interest you. Type in: hiking hawaii, hiking oahu, bed and breakfast oahu, condominiums oahu, botanical gardens oahu, oahu hotels or any other terms that will get you information.

Hotels: Most hotels (or hotel chains) have their own 800 numbers and/or websites:




, etc. Or you can use a search engine to find the website or use the search engine's yellow pages for the phone number.
also try www.vrbo.com for more options

Entertainment Book
Entertainment books for Hawaii and many other locations can be purchased online at:


They cost around $35-$40 plus shipping or if you wait until mid-March, the price is reduced to about $25 (or less) with free shipping, $15 after mid-May. Expires November 1.

Coupons include half price tickets for John Hirokawa's Magic Show. Hundreds of other coupons for reduce price luaus, shopping, dining, movies, attractions, etc. The Hawaii book also has many mainland coupons for hotels, car rentals, Universal Studios, Sea World, etc.

www.kauaidiscovery.com They will send a free brochure

dusty56438 is offline  
Old May 7th, 2006, 10:13 AM
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I had a pleasant facial at "Serenity Spa" at the Outrigger Reef hotel, which is right off the beach in Waikiki. Also have seen posted that Halekulani next door has one too.

suze is offline  
Old May 16th, 2006, 07:55 AM
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Am I the only regular reader/participant on this forum who thinks that Dusty should stop posting the overlong information about Oahu? It bogs down the thread and comes across as if he/she were marketing the island rather than actually responding to the original posted question.
Cidbob is offline  
Old May 16th, 2006, 08:00 AM
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Be sure to check out the permanent fruit and veggie stand on the road to Poipu between Koloa Town and the resort area. When it's open, it has excellent stuff.

My wife and I have rented a convertible for all five of our trips to Kauai and have never had a major problem, even on the roads to Polihale and Maha-elupu.

I do believe that you can find surfing lessons at the Sheraton/Kiuhana Plantation Beach.
Cidbob is offline  
Old May 16th, 2006, 08:23 AM
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Hi there, I've done tons of research on Oahu weddings sites. Here's a site that has packages and there are several pics of various, more private locations: http://www.dreamweddingshawaii.com/gallery1.htm

Personally, I think one of the most beautiful, easy to get locations is Waialae Beach Park, by the Kahala Mandarin Hotel. A link to various pics at this site http://bridaldreamhawaii.photosite.com/waialae

Regarding your other questions..
Luau's..they're all touristy, but still fun for a first time visitor. We really enjoy the Paradise Cove Luau on Oahu, plus the entertainment book has a discount coupon you can use.

Jeep on Kauai - the Jeeps are really fun, but if you're on a budget..it's not necessary. You won't really be off-roading on Kauai. You may want to book a regular car w/ Alamo (use costco travel book discount or entertainment book coupon) and maybe wait till you pick up the car to see if they offer any special upgrades (they usually do based on last minute availability).

Have fun and congrats to your friend.

btw..Cidbob: yes, I agree a bit, though Dusty's list of links are extremely helpful, I think at times they make the post a bit harder to read and are a tad redundant since they're in virtually every Oahu newbie question. Please don't take offense Dusty, I've used your lists (recently for my upcoming BI HM trip) Maybe better to title a post - Dusty's Resources and then we can all refer Newbies to that post as an starting point?
ggrtist is offline  
Old May 16th, 2006, 08:48 AM
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Regarding Dusty's list. There are posters on the other boards (Europe, Latin America and Caribbean that I know of) who have put together similar lists for a particular area that they e-mail to interested people.

iamq is offline  
Old May 16th, 2006, 09:02 AM
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I kinda just assumed dusty posts his list because the same questions come up every time. I guess it would be better if newbies did a search first? I tried topping and referring his original posts for newbies but that got tiring too.
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Old May 16th, 2006, 09:03 AM
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Hi Bill, the lists are definitely helpful and convenient as they have everything in one place. Hopefully in most cases the OP's recognize that indeed use/print them out for their trips
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Old May 17th, 2006, 07:41 AM
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I like Dusty's list and think that it's very helpful. I wonder if there's some way,however, that it could be linked to rather than placed in the middle of several different threads. Maybe the idea of doing a Dusty's Oahu List as a thread in its own right? No big deal, and I apologize to Dusty for implying that there was something wrong with the posting--just was wondering about how to make our Kauai threads more efficient.
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Old May 17th, 2006, 09:31 AM
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"...just was wondering about how to make our Kauai threads more efficient".

Yes, I agree, and let's make them more humorous too while we are at!

Can one ever smile or laugh enough?


We've never missed not having a four wheel drive on Kaua'i.

I saw several people getting surfing lessons in Hanalei last summer so there must be someone doing it up there.

Anara is a good spa, but they are closing it for remdoeling sometime in the future, so be aware.

Google "sunshine markets kauai" and you will find a schedule. The markets in Hanalei are great, but crowded. Get there early for the best selection.

iamq is offline  
Old May 17th, 2006, 10:57 AM
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a little more humour he says????

2. If Anara Spa is closed, you could try Alexander. I did a massage there and it was ok. But, I had a great massage last year at "A Touch in Paradise" in the historic Seto Bldg in Kapaa. Michael did my massage, but I would not have hesitated for Paula to do it as well.

3. You will be fine with a small car.

I hope you don't like to sleep late...those roosters crow day and night!!

Old May 19th, 2006, 01:58 PM
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Save the money from the Jeep rental get something to get you from point a to point b. Take the money you saved and either take a Napali cruise or heliocopter tour on Kauai or do both.
hulajake is offline  
Old May 21st, 2006, 04:42 AM
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wow, thanks for all the great responses. yes, i've done searches on this and some other boards, and i've seen dusty's list everywhere! i just thought there might be some extra opinions/links/resources out there. thanks again for all the ideas!
sanchow is offline  
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